Imagine a group of similarly-motivated co-workers gathered around a table. They’re working hard–but not in the traditional sense, and not at a board room table. Instead, they are engaging in meaningful conversation and developing lasting relationships at an event venue, over a delicious meal.
Events like these are truly valuable. They accomplish important things: pulling people together for common causes, thanking hard-working employees or building community. We’ve seen first hand the good that can come out of these types of events when done successfully, and it is truly powerful.
If you’ve been tasked with planning an event to remember, begin your initial preparation with these four critical steps:
1. PRESENT YOUR PASSION – Take a moment to evaluate what your event is supposed to accomplish, and to get inspired. Then, find ways to present your passion and inspire attendees as well. How can the food, ambiance and activities of the evening help you to get people excited about your goals?
Attendees want the opportunity to make connections and contribute to change. If you’re hoping to collect donations for a charity, for example, and you’re bringing together people who believe in a common cause, it may be beneficial to incorporate opportunities for them to casually interact and get to know each other. In this case, planning interactive stations or activities rather than a formal, sit-down dinner may work best. Maintaining focus on your end goal throughout the planning process will help to encourage loyal support and create a more fruitful event.
2. MAKE MORE WITH LESS – When people attend an event with a defined purpose, they want to see their ticket cost going toward that purpose, rather than to the ceremony itself. Be conscious of stretching the funds that you’ve likely worked hard to collect.
Do you know of a local organization that shares the same passion for your cause, or regularly partners with your company? Leverage your existing partnerships to help offset costs. Related companies or partners may be interested in helping to support or sponsor a range of items at your event, so don’t be afraid to reach out. Offering them sponsorship benefits like recognition in your program or on your website, or even an opportunity to speak at your event can go a long way.
Another way to stretch your dollar is by working with a knowledgeable vendor who has partnerships with other event vendors. “The food is just one component of our job during a large event,” said Josh Carin, Owner of Geppetto Catering. “It is the easiest part of what we do, but the events we help facilitate are always about so much more.”
3. SCRUTINIZE THE SCHEDULE – Think about the event schedule before choosing your food options, as your timeline will give you an important guide to which menu options might be best. For example, if the evening is packed with speeches or consistent networking opportunities, finger foods and hors d’oeuvres might be better than a sit-down meal, which typically requires at least 1 ½ hours of time. If guests will be brainstorming throughout the event, taking courses or attending meetings at a large convention, be sure to incorporate menu items that are able to stay fresh for longer periods of time, as they may want to come back for seconds during breaks.
4. STICK TO THE SEASON – Fall and winter holidays are the perfect reason to bring people together, and keeping the season in mind when designing and planning helps to wrap people up in timely ambiance. Finding items that are in-season can help to ensure that your guests will be able to choose from farm-fresh options, as well. October and November are wonderful times to offer traditional apple and pumpkin-themed favorites. Your event’s region can also come into play here. If you are hosting at a venue near the water, for example, you may want to serve up fresh seafood. Consider offering a seasonally-appropriate signature cocktail, as well, (perhaps something named after your organization or cause,) mulled cider in the fall and winter always goes over well!
After using these important steps to plan the perfect event you can hand the job (and hopefully the stress, as well) over to a qualified caterer. It is our duty to take the final steps to ensure that when guests arrive at your event, every experience they have will be an unforgettable one.